Simple question for my paedo brethren

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DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
James White and Bill Shishko Infant Baptism Debate available free here:

James White and Bill Shishko Infant Baptism Debate MP3s « In Thy Light

(Source: Thanks to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Franklin Square, NY, for providing these audios to the public.)

I believe that this is the truncated version with the missing 24-25 minutes. The version available for sale on aomin.org ($4.50) patches an audience recording with a bit less fidelity into the gap on the official debate tape. Essentially all but 24 minutes of the aomin.org version is the same as the one from In Thy Light, but it includes the extra minutes. It is not quite as good of a recording for those few minutes, but it captures some of Shishko's best lines that get lost on the two part version you cite.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
DMcFadden
McFadderator Minimizing

Oh my, another "epiphany"???

In other words, because of the stress on continuity between the testaments, covenantal structure, and the notion of children as part of the New Covenant in an organic way, the whole "approach" to kids is profoundly different.

I think there is an expectation born of Scripture that "covenant children" will grow up in the nuture and admonition of the Lord, and that grace is really present through the family and covenant community (the visible church). We are called to believe, have faith in that. So, it is "normal" to expect this (but not demand it) from God. God has promised to work specially within the covenant community. It doesn't mean He can't work outside of it, or that He works salvation in every member (hence the visible/invisible church distinction) but ordinarily He has chosen to work salvation within it.

The paedo understanding, as Shishko articulated it, engages in covenantal continuation with the OT pattern of children being included in the covenant with all of the blessings appertaining thereunto, without professing that any empirical child is actually elect.

And it was very important for me, coming from a "believer's baptism" church to understand that infant baptism does not guarantee salvation and that baptism, in itself, does not confer salvation.

Honestly, it was difficult later for me to understand that some, perhaps many of the Reformers believed covenant children infants who die in infancy automatically go to heaven. I came to understand many of them based that on the idea that God also predestined them to die in infancy and inferred He would be merciful based on passages such as Luke 18:15,16and II Samuel 12:23) but not based on a belief the infant was without sin, or without capacity to sin ("age of accountability" notions).

Thankfully, the Westminster Confession says that elect infants who die in infancy go to heaven but very wisely, does not bind our conscience to say how many or how few those might be, because Scripture is not clear on that point. This would have been problematic for me when I first considered the case for infant baptism because it was very important to me to understand the Reformed were not baptizing with something like the same idea as the Roman church. They are not!
 
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Thomas2007

Puritan Board Sophomore
Call me clueless . . . but it FINALLY hit me after all of these Baptism threads, that the issue that separates paedos from most credos MIGHT have more to do with ecclesiology than sacramentology. Duh! For you on the other side, this may be patent and obvious to you. But, believe me that an intelligent credo would seldom have reason to see it that way. We were hammered to believe that credo baptism is self evident and obvious in the Bible. Anything else partakes of Romanism or liberal Protestantism we were told. Except for the few Reformed Baptists, the CT implications are left unexplored.

Some of you have become quite exercised bringing up the emotional arguments regarding treating covenant children like "vipers in diapers" or "playpen pagans" in the baptism threads, notions that sounded quite foreign to me. While it may be a logical inconsistency in Baptist thinking, most Baptists I know neither frame it that way nor even contemplate such implications regarding their kids.

Today, listening to a MP3 on infant baptism it finally hit me. Paedos see baptism as an outgrowth of the covenant structure to scripture. Of course baptism is viewed as the sign and seal of the New Covenant (just as circumcision was the sign and seal of the Old Covenant). What I was missing, however, was the inner logic of the CT position. Since having the covenant sign did not necessarily make you a member of True Israel neither does baptism necessarily apply only to true believers (there is that promise to "you and to your children"). Ta da!

Most of us crredos, however, are stuck on the idea that the church is ONLY to be a regenerate membership, not a combination of saved and unsaved peoples. Unbelievers in the church may be a reality, but it would never be assumed the way it is when using the comparison to the OT covenant. The old Baptist saw is "a regenerate membership safeguarded by believer's baptism."

My guess is that credo baptism was adopted as a way of applying "regenerate membership" ecclesiology rather than coming from an inductive study of the Bible and who should be baptized (it certainly did not grow out of a deep understanding of covenant). The deeper goal was not to restrict who you baptized, but to insure that the composition of the visible church comes as close to being coextensive with the number of the elect as possible. Then, when Arminianism swamped the Baptist boat in the 19th and 20th centuries, the democratic emphasis upon volunterism and "choosing" to become a Christian took center stage. Here, believer's baptism made even more sense. If becoming a Christian was simply a matter of choosing, then baptism for "choosers" (aka believers) should be obvious. (This does not, however, explain why Methodists practice infant baptism!)

Maybe my bow tie is on too tight this afternoon and my theological acumen has gone out the window. However, here is my question: do you paedo brethren think that the deeper problem with the credo position is the tendency in most Baptist circles to operate out of a flawed notion of the proper composition of the visible church with the sacramentological implications following? In other words, where is the "real" rub, with the proper candidates for baptism or with the ecclesiological understanding of the church as made up only of regenerate persons?

I now think I can see why paedos believe that their children should be baptized. Now it makes sense to me! And, it makes even more sense why some of you get so ticked off at the credo position, believing that it implies terrible things about our (and your) children and their spiritual state.

Does this line of thought seem to fairly represent what is at stake? If so, my efforts at understanding this subject will require me to dig deeply into the nature of the church and its proper biblical composition rather than merely the arguments for and against infant baptism.

You're catching on. The argument, of course not including methodology, has never really been over baptism, as all paedobaptists are credobaptists as well. So, the paradigm between credobaptism and paedobaptism is not a correct understanding of the issue. The issue is covenant theology and paedobaptism as the sign and seal of the covenant under the present dispensation.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
More great observations Dennis.

One thing I would also like you to note about the debate is how very little James White's arguments actually touch on who are the proper subjects of baptism.

In other words, does the argument that the New Covenant consists of the elect alone (as White insists) prove anything about whether or not a professor alone ought to be baptized? If no, then why so little attention is paid to other arguments that demonstrate that only professors are the proper subjects? In the final analysis, from White's angle, isn't it more a debate that the New Covenant consists of the elect alone and scarcely a Baptism debate at all?

You also noted how you (and other Baptist parents) prayed with your kids. I think you do well to not how dissonant that it with the assumption that they are unregenerate. As I told a friend last night, I don't presume upon the regeneration of my children but I don't presume they are unregenerate or I would be engaging in contradiction every time I taught them to pray or sing Psalms.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner

Josh,

I can't thank you enough for turning me onto the 23 Shishko lectures. Wow! They are VERY good . . . and free. My two favorite things. :lol:

I plan on reading Malone and the book on children of the covenant from the Calvinistic Baptist perspective before doing much fence jumping (particularly since the barbed wire on this one would likely catch my job and tear it away as I was making my jump to the paedo side). However, Shishko is a gift to the church. What a great TE!
 

Ezekiel3626

Puritan Board Freshman
Dennis, what was the program that Steve Kellam recommended to you. If you have already explained or given the link, I apologize for asking you to re-post. I may have missed it.

:cheers:
 

kalawine

Puritan Board Junior

Josh,

I can't thank you enough for turning me onto the 23 Shishko lectures. Wow! They are VERY good . . . and free. My two favorite things. :lol:

I plan on reading Malone and the book on children of the covenant from the Calvinistic Baptist perspective before doing much fence jumping (particularly since the barbed wire on this one would likely catch my job and tear it away as I was making my jump to the paedo side). However, Shishko is a gift to the church. What a great TE!


No matter which side you come out on I have the utmost respect for you. Your humility is a breath of fresh air.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Dennis:

Concerning all this "viper in a covenant diaper" business: it's important to remember that we paedos don't believe that baptism saves anyone, infants included. Infants are not automatically saved just because they are born into covenant homes. Babies are sinners and, as they grow, need to have the gospel presented to them, just as adults do. Covenant theology only guarantees that elect infants will be saved, and there is no guarantee that every infant born into a covenant home is elect.

The short version of all this is: both presumptive regeneration and baptismal regeneration are rejected in covenant theology.

I know you know all this, but it bears repeating, I think.

By the way, I had your experience some years ago, as others have testified in this thread: it's covenant theology that makes all the biblical pieces fit together. I went from being an Arminian who thought that the "dividing line" of the Bible was that white space between the two Testaments to being a Reformed person who understands that the great "divide" comes at Genesis 3:15.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Richard,

Yes, my struggle is with the logic of covenant theology. While Baptists of a Reformed inclination ALSO make their case from covenant theology, the logic of the paedo view certainly coheres with the system. That is why I am trying to be so careful in my consideration this time. Baptism, CT vs. TR in the translation and text arena, and eschatology were issues that my education presented in a more or less straw man way at best. Yes, I always knew that Reformed paedos did not believe in the efficacy of baptism in an ex opere operato sense. I also knew that you all denied presumptive regeneration (at least the mainstream paedos). However, other than a few bullet points, I had never heard a case for it by a paedo. The pictures of Calvin L.'s baptism were the first close-ups of an actual infant baptism (other than in the movies such as "The Godfather") I had ever seen.

Now after a hiatus for vacation, I'm back to the Shishko MP3s (#13/23). Whether you buy the logic of the position, the exegetical analysis, or the putative ties between the testaments or not, that man is a true pastor. What a gift! He has a knack for presenting his case winsomely and without rancor and minus the misrepresentations of the baptist position. A Shishko teaching session is a libel free zone suffused with an earnest desire to know God and make him known.

I will withhold judgment on the issue until doing the rest of the reading. Conner was shockingly weak in argumentation (in my opinion) and harped on the same point, although he scored more than a few hits on the paedo position. I'm anxious to get into material by Renihan. Marcel is a fascinating read and our PB folks were right to recommend it as a powerful case for infant baptism. My more than three decade long irritation with the theology of my old Sys Theo prof, Paul K. Jewett, has kept me from reading his admittedly seminal work. But it will also be on my list to pour over before committing myself either way.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Now after a hiatus for vacation, I'm back to the Shishko MP3s (#13/23). Whether you buy the logic of the position, the exegetical analysis, or the putative ties between the testaments or not, that man is a true pastor. What a gift! He has a knack for presenting his case winsomely and without rancor and minus the misrepresentations of the baptist position. A Shishko teaching session is a libel free zone suffused with an earnest desire to know God and make him known.

Brother, do you have a link for downloading/buying the Shisko mp3s?

Also have you heard the mp3s of the White/Shisko debate on the subject? I listened to those about a year ago (they were free for download at the time), but I think I read something later that said that portions of the debate were mysteriously missing and it had to be re-edited. I specifically remember having a conversation with James White (on one of the AOMin cruises a couple years back) where he said he asked a cross examination question about the circumcision of Ahab's sons, but that was missing from the mp3s I listened to.

My favorite part of the debate? White repeatedly stating that infants are incapable of having faith, and then (during the audience question portion of the debate) someone asking White to respond to Psalm 22:9 -- "Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother's breasts." I wouldn't call it a meltdown, but White sounded like he became very animated over the question. :rant:
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Also have you heard the mp3s of the White/Shisko debate on the subject? I listened to those about a year ago (they were free for download at the time), but I think I read something later that said that portions of the debate were mysteriously missing and it had to be re-edited. I specifically remember having a conversation with James White (on one of the AOMin cruises a couple years back) where he said he asked a cross examination question about the circumcision of Ahab's sons, but that was missing from the mp3s I listened to.

Yes, the Shishko series is all available at Seb's link . . . for free!

My copy of the debate has the restored missing minutes. Evidently, what happened is that the official debate recording stopped (ran out of tape??? didn't get turned over???). It looks like they found a person in the audience who made their own tape and spliced in the missing minutes. There is a very notable drop in fidelity for the twenty some minutes, but it is listenable. I downloaded it for $4.50 off White's website (http://www.aomin.org/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=712).
 
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DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Hey, Paedo brothers and sises . . .

Here is another musing. Leaving aside the issue of truth and error, from an intellectual history perspective, what do you see happening in the paedo vs. credo camp these days? I would think that the unrelenting march of individualistic pluralism, privitization, and "democracy" in general makes the credo practice seem more congruent with the spirit of the times. If so, then the paedo position is fighting an unhill battle to receive fair hearing in this culture.

Any thoughts?
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Hey, Paedo brothers and sises . . .

Here is another musing. Leaving aside the issue of truth and error, from an intellectual history perspective, what do you see happening in the paedo vs. credo camp these days? I would think that the unrelenting march of individualistic pluralism, privitization, and "democracy" in general makes the credo practice seem more congruent with the spirit of the times. If so, then the paedo position is fighting an unhill battle to receive fair hearing in this culture.

Any thoughts?

I can certainly see this trend, which I think has been going on for a while now. The Enlightenment really started it all. So, the paedo position has been counter-cultural for at least 200 hundred years. But then, so has the church itself been counter-cultural. Any kind of body of people who think they have the truth (and this would include the Baptist churches) is counter-cultural. As to its effect on paedo-baptists, I think it has primarily stiffened our resolve to make our position clearer. Certainly, the importance of covenantal familial succession (not of election but of the promises) impresses itself upon us more forcefully when we consider how much it is under attack.
 

Dearly Bought

Puritan Board Junior
Hey, Paedo brothers and sises . . .

Here is another musing. Leaving aside the issue of truth and error, from an intellectual history perspective, what do you see happening in the paedo vs. credo camp these days? I would think that the unrelenting march of individualistic pluralism, privitization, and "democracy" in general makes the credo practice seem more congruent with the spirit of the times. If so, then the paedo position is fighting an unhill battle to receive fair hearing in this culture.

Any thoughts?

There are some rays of hope for paedobaptists. Who would have thought that an American Baptist educated in a liberal Baptist religious studies department would be pursuing membership in a RCUS congregation? Yet here I am. I know of at least two other friends from my college who have also come over to the dark side. This past Tuesday, we just said our goodbyes to another college friend who is headed off to Westminster California. He's still claims to be Baptist, but argued the paedo position in a group discussion we had last week.

The covenantal worldview is certainly at odds with the surrounding culture, but this can be a good thing.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Bryan,

Regardless of where my journey ends up on the baptism question, I will NEVER regret our withdrawal from the ABC! Just yesterday, someone made a quip on my blog that since stopping my commentary on the ABC, this "barking dog" doesn't have much to say. Part of what I replied related to increased work responsibilities. But here is the rest of it:

Hmmmm. How true! For several reasons:

Nothing like deep grief to provoke the spilling of much ink. Three years after the fact, my grieving over leaving the ABC is largely over and Trans Min is doing GREAT! As of last month, 148 congregations have signed the Transformation Ministries covenant and as treasurer of the organization, I can vouch for the fact that our finances are in better shape than they have been in years.

So, why pick on Ole Roy[for you Presbyterians, he is the General Secretary of the ABCUSA]? He recently preached at an AWAB church [translation: pro-gay marriage and ordination of openly gay persons] and evidently lauded them lavishly. The pastor of the church commented [emphasis mine]:

“During the luncheon following worship, Dr. Medley spoke to a number of issues within our denomination, beginning with the 'recent unpleasantness' on matters surrounding the issue of sexual orientation. He upheld the twin historic Baptist emphases upon the 'authority of scripture' as well as the final role of the 'local congregation' in scripture’s interpretation. He recognized that standing for these principles cost the denomination the loss of one region [translation: that would be my judicatory] but added that we could not surrender these convictions of conscience. Dr. Medley’s assertion of the primacy of these principles in the ongoing life of our denomination was deeply reassuring.

“Dr. Medley went on to share some other observations about our life together. He spoke of the 'catholicity' of the American Baptist family, recognizing we are the broadest and most inclusive band of Baptists in the country, spanning a greater diversity of theological belief, race and culture than any other national gathering of Baptists. He encouraged us to reclaim the joy of living together, out of this diversity, as we simply share in the work of God. He also celebrated the many relationships that are growing between us and other Baptists as seen in both the Alliance of Baptists and the New Baptist Covenant. He added, 'Excluding different views is not how we conduct our life.'

“Finally, I was keenly impressed by the leadership and initiative Dr. Medley is taking in building an 'ecology of relationship' between our denomination and the Islamic Society of America. He is particularly emphasizing dialogue on how we can work together to insure peace and dignity for all, a prophetic stance in this time of growing anti-Islamic prejudice.

There is no denying that the withdrawal from the ABC was a very painful separation for me. More than 50 years in an organization and lots of hours of committee service makes a divorce like that pretty wrenching. But, the decision of the other regions to stick with the ABC was something that I was emotionally unprepared to face. Knowing what some of these executives of judicatories believe (hey, they sent me e-mails professing it) made their subsequent public "loyalty" incomprehensible to me. And, when the pastoral leaders around the country also fell into line with VF [translation: Valley Forge = headquarters of the ABCUSA], that was more than I could take. If an "ecology of relationship" with gay advocacy and the Islamic Society of America is what "conservatives" in the ABC want, they are entitled to enjoy it in peace (at least from this barking dog).

So, like some other former critics of things at VF, I have moved on to other issues. A barking dog with a principled objection is one thing, a cranky old coot with a tiresome and repetitious complaint is another. All of the insider information, devastating budgetary trends, knowledge of documented personal immorality (both sexual and financial), and heterodox teaching can be identified and chronicled. But, ultimately it doesn't matter. People stay in the ABC for reasons of "family," and all of the arguments, evidence, and the like are, in the final analysis, beside the point. Hey, I fought VF and VF won. Even a barking dog can read the score board.

The good side is that as a result of my "crisis," it prompt me to return ad fontes to the essentials of my faith and consider again what the Bible teaches on any number of issues of eschatology, baptism, confessionalism, covenant, etc. Regardless of where I come out on baptism, that journey has been a blessing.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Only a general observation.

It seems now there is a slight falling away trend among "broad evangelicals" and those who are not firmly grounded on Scripture as a basis for faith and practice. There are some losses as people lose interest (short term excitement but longer term loss) whereas Reformed theology is gaining, albeit slowly. It is especially gaining "acceptance" in evangelical theological circles partly because it is not the mainstream.

This all may mean some growth in paedobaptism. Also, the idea of covenant communities and covenant families tend to mean higher growth.
 
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